Hawai‘i is at the forefront of tackling the problem of renewable energy integration. The geographic isolation of the islands’ electricity grids and the exponential growth of renewable generation make Hawai‘i’s electricity grids particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of intermittent renewable energy sources, but also an ideal test bed for energy storage solutions. HNEI's GridSTART Team is conducting an integrated program including grid system analysis; and technology development and demonstration to advance solutions for Hawai‘i and for the nation.
Grid System Analysis
A series of grid analysis studies were conducted for the utilities on Hawaii Island, Maui, and Oahu, in partnership with GE Global Research and Hawaiian Electric Company. The initial work included considerations of the utility distribution systems (see the Oahu grid to the right), energy management systems, frequency control methods, and descriptions of existing renewable energy sources being utilized. This partnership continued with HNEI efforts aimed at solving problems related to power distribution, incorporation of renewable energy resources, and microgrids. One of these efforts led to a whole new category of work for HNEI involving smart grid studies.
More recent HNEI efforts involve the interconnection of renewable energy sources between two or more of the Hawaiian Islands. Such work can include consideration of energy from wind and photovoltaic sources (see the example to the right). These studies examine very high penetration of renewable energy and focus on issues such as reserve strategies, impacts on thermal unit commitment and dispatch, utilization of energy storage, renewable energy curtailment, and other aspects of grid reliability, operations, and costs. Especially important is the attention given to advanced control systems and operational strategies. A critical factor in such a program is the State of Hawaii high-cost investment decision regarding desirability and benefits of the grid interconnections via submarine power cable systems.
Grid Technology: Development and Demonstration
HNEI is conducting research, development and demonstration of new technologies to increase renewable energy integration onto the grid and assist in increasing controllability and grid stability.
One effort is focused on demonstrating a smart grid system on a portion of the Maui Electric Company electric grid at Wailea on Maui. The second project includes demonstration of the ability of smart grid inverters to mitigate grid reliability impacts resulting from high penetrations of distributed photovoltaic systems. The final effort is the Japan-U.S. Island Grid Project, seeking to integrate high levels of PV, wind energy, and electric vehicles into an island-based smart grid environment on Maui.
Grid System Technologies Advanced Research Team (GridSTART) supports HNEI's Grid Integration technology 
GridSTART empowers islanded grids and remote communitiesto optimize power systems and reliably integrate greater levels of renewables. It focuses on research, develop, test and evaluate (RDT&E) advanced grid control architectures, enabling policies, and new technologies and methods for effective integration of renewable energy resources and power system optimization. The GridSTART vision is to be recognized worldwide as the leading renewable energy integration experts specializing in islanded power systems and advanced micro-grid solutions.
“Building on Established Pacific-Asian Regional Focus and Relationships”
Expertise and focus
- Smart Grid Planning and Technologies (energy control systems & architecture, energy storage applications, electric vehicle grid applications, microgrids, load control, advanced inverters etc.)
- Power Systems Planning (generation resources, transmission, distribution)
- Power Systems Operation (conventional generation commitment and dispatch,generation resource operational constraints and issues)
- Energy Policy (energy legislation and utility regulatory framework, operations reliability)
- Power Systems Engineering and Standards
- Project Management and Execution (generation and T&D infrastructure permitting, environmental review and assessment processes,project scope & budget development and execution, project resource contracting and management)
GridSTART Team 
Extensive utilities background in island power systems and renewables integration, combined with the strategic mindset and resources of a leading clean energy institute.100+ years of combined utility & PUC experience.
- Richard Rocheleau , Director
- Leon Roose , Principal & Chief Technologist
- Marc Matsuura , Sr. Smart Grid Program Manager
- Edwin Noma , Senior RESG Program Manager
- Nathan Liang , Senior Power Systems Engineer
- Staci Sadoyama , Power Systems Engineer
- Hsun Kanoa Jou , Power Systems Engineer
- James Maskrey , Assistant Specialist
- John Cole , Assistant Specialist
- Katherine Mckenzie , Assistant Specialist
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